Juliette Candela, the daughter of 9/11 victim John Candela, was chosen to sing the National Anthem at the end of a tribute video the NFL played at the start of Week 1 broadcasts, the day after the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Candela's performance was preceded by a video tribute narrated by actor Steve Buscemi, a former New York firefighter who spent days after the attack going through the Ground Zero rubble with his former colleagues. The tribute video aired before the early afternoon games on both CBS and Fox.
Candela's father died at the World Trade Center. She performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City. Candela is a music therapist, selected by Tuesday's Children. The organization was established to help individuals and families who have lost loved ones to mass violence, terrorism, or military service since Sept. 11, 2001.
The tragic events of September 11th, 2001 devastated our country 20 years ago.— NFL (@NFL) September 12, 2021
We remember those we lost and how we came together the day after the attacks, paving the way for healing and growth, followed by a special performance of our country’s National Anthem. pic.twitter.com/ZFqbmLIppG
Aside from the special tribute video, the NFL marked the somber anniversary with special 9/11 ribbon helmet decals. Coaches and sideline personnel wore 9/11 label pins, which were also provided to broadcast announcers and league employees. The two New York City teams will also wear special NYPD, FDNY, and Port Authority Department hats. The New York Giants are playing the Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium at 4:25 p.m. ET. The New York Jets are playing the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.
In a recent interview with the U.K.'s I News, Candela, 26, said she still fears there could be another terrorist attack, especially after the U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan. "I do wonder if this means that there's going to be more (attacks) with a rise of terrorism and if that's going to extend to other countries and the surrounding Middle East," she said. "I feel very scared for the citizens of the country and my heart bleeds for them. I wish this wasn't happening."
Although she was only a few days away from turning 7 years old when 9/11 happened, she said she remembers the day with "crystal clear" clarity. She recalled how a teacher told her that her mother was coming to pick her up early from school in the middle of gym class. "She said my name and put her hands on my shoulders," she recalled of her mother. "She was very steady and said, 'There's been an accident and daddy's not coming home.'"
Candela called her father an "incredible family man" and her "superhero." There is still a "hole where that person used to be and a part of my life that I want to share with him that I'll never get to share with him." Still, she will not let her heartbreak define her. "I've learned from my mother and incredible family that if we let the fear in, then the terrorists win," Candela told I News. "They want us to fear them because their power lies in fear and (if afforded that) the people who killed my dad win but I won't let that happen."